By Hillary Senour
The recent theft of a 12th century Irish saint’s heart from a Dublin church has left local Christians stunned and devastated.
“All I would ask is that whoever took it would return it with no questions asked. It’s valueless to anyone but the Cathedral here and our community and the community of Dublin…we’re grieving over it, really,” church dean Rev. Dermot Dunne told CNA on March 5.
The heart of St. Laurence O’Toole was stolen from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin sometime between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on March 3 and has yet to be recovered.
Rev. Dunne said that the local Christian community is particularly devastated “that someone should deprive us of a special link” of their past and their Christian founder.
Although Christ Church Cathedral is part of the Anglican Church, Rev. Dermot said that both the Catholic and Anglican dioceses of Dublin venerate St. O’Toole as the patron of the city.
“The outpouring of emotion of horror at such a crime is quite notable” among both communities, Rev. Dunne said. “It’s showing how much Laurence O’Toole is in the hearts of people.”
Prior to the Protestant Reformation, St. O’Toole established the Augustinian order in Ireland’s capital and has “been venerated as the person who established the faith in Dublin.”
During a pilgrimage to Rome, St. O’Toole died in Normandy. His body was buried in France, but his heart was returned to Ireland “because that’s where his heart was really, in the life and city of Dublin,” the Anglican priest said.
“It’s just unthinkable that someone should steal something like that.”
The relic, which was kept in a heart-shaped wooden box behind an iron cage, has been housed in Christ Church Cathedral for over 800 years.
Rev. Dunne said that he thinks the theft was planned, most likely by someone who had been in the cathedral before.
It’s “something that you couldn’t do on a whim or just on the spot,” he explained. “It would need to be prepared with a proper wire cutters and so on, so it looks like it was planned.”
The Garda Siochana, Ireland’s national police, have begun their investigation but have no update on the theft as of this time.
Rev. Dunne, however, said he is confident the police will recover the relic just as they did the relics of the True Cross, which were stolen from Holy Cross Abbey in Co. Tipperary last year.